The new Republican head of a key House committee assailed Democratic President Joe Biden and his aides Sunday for their handling of classified documents discovered at a Washington office Biden used after his vice presidency ended in 2017 and at his home in the eastern city of Wilmington, Delaware.
Representative James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, asked Ron Klain, Biden’s White House chief of staff, in a letter for information on the searches for the documents at Biden’s office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington and at Biden’s home, including lists of who visited the residence since he became president nearly two years ago.
Comer’s request came a day after the White House said Biden’s aides had found five additional pages of classified material at his home, in addition to an earlier disclosure that other documents had been found in the garage at his home and at the Washington office Biden occasionally used before running for president in 2020.
In all, about 20 classified documents have been found at the Biden office or home, including some that were first discovered in early November, just days before crucial nationwide congressional elections, but not acknowledged by the White House until last week. All have been turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration as required by U.S. law when presidents and vice presidents leave office.
In the run-up to the elections, where Democrats won more contests than predicted— before the voting, Biden attacked former President Donald Trump as “totally irresponsible” for taking more than 300 classified documents to his Mar-a-Lago oceanside retreat in Florida when he left office. Eventually, Trump returned some of the documents as the Archives requested, while dozens of others were not recovered until FBI agents discovered them in a court-ordered search at Mar-a-Lago last August.
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” show, Comer said he was not accusing Biden of wrongdoing, but added, “I will accuse the Biden administration of not being transparent” in not confirming that the classified documents had been discovered until after CBS News first reported it.
“The hypocrisy here is great,” Comer said about Biden attacking Trump for his document cache and then not confirming his own until weeks after the election, the disclosure of which could have influenced voting.
Comer made no request for visitor logs at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago retreat where he lives in the winter months.
“No one’s been investigated more than President Trump,” Comer told CNN, “but no one’s investigated President Biden.”
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed two special counsels, one to investigate Trump’s classified documents and another to probe Biden’s collection of classified material.
The White House, seeking to minimize the political fallout from the disclosure of the classified material found at Biden locations, has noted that it is fully cooperating with the investigation of his documents while Trump has decried the probe of the material found at Mar-a-Lago.
In his letter to Klain, Comer said, “It is troubling that classified documents have been improperly stored at the home of President Biden for at least six years, raising questions about who may have reviewed or had access to classified information.”
Biden has said he was surprised to learn that any classified material was discovered at locations linked to him.
Comer, asked by CNN if he cared more about the mishandling of classified documents when it related to Democrats, replied, “Absolutely not. Look, we still don’t know what type of documents President Trump had.”
“My concern,” he said, “is how there’s such a discrepancy in how former President Trump was treated by raiding Mar-a-Lago, by getting the security cameras, by taking pictures of documents on the floor. … That’s not equal treatment, and we’re very concerned and there’s a lack of trust here at the Department of Justice by House Republicans. That’s the outrage.”